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Being pregnant

Your pregnancy: 23 weeks

At this point in your baby's development, his skin is wrinkly, but his intrauterine wrinkles will disappear as he gains more weight.

By Today's Parent
Your pregnancy: 23 weeks

PHOTO: MANDY MILKS, ERIK PUTZ, ANTHONY SWANEVELD. FELT: THEFELTSTORE.COM

Twenty-three weeks pregnant: What's going on in there

You made it to week 23! Your baby is now about the size of a carrot. By 23 weeks pregnant, the average fetus measures about 28 centimetres (11 inches) from head to toe and weighs about 500 grams (1.1 pounds). She is getting bigger and starting to look a lot more like a cute little baby!

Pregnant woman Arisara_Tongdonnoi / Getty Images

Twenty-three weeks pregnant symptoms

Varicose veins

If you’ve noticed bluish or purplish veins bulging under the skin on the backs of your legs, those are varicose veins. Unfortunately, they’re not just for old ladies. Varicose veins are caused by the growing weight of your uterus putting pressure on the veins in your lower body, combined with an increased volume of blood to support you and your baby. Plus, those hormones that help your pelvis relax to make room for a bulging uterus also cause your veins to dilate. (If they pop up in or around the rectum, those are hemorrhoids. Yes, eek!) Varicose veins tend to run in families (chances are, your mom had them, too) and, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent them. To keep them from getting worse, don’t stand for long periods without a break, avoid crossing your legs, and put your feet up as often as possible. Compression socks and tights can also help by boosting circulation in your legs. Fortunately, this is one pregnancy symptom that will diminish after delivery. 

Close up of spider veins occur on woman thigh. Boy_Anupong / Getty Images

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The “dark line”

As we mentioned in week 19, you may be noticing a dark line in another spot, too: running down the middle of your tummy from your belly button to your pubic bone. Linea nigra is caused by the same pregnancy hormones that are triggering other skin discolourations you might be seeing, like the darker shade of your areolas or the freckles on your face, as well as on your arms and legs. You’re more likely to notice these skin changes if you have a darker complexion. But don’t worry: They will fade within a few months postpartum.

pregnant woman with faint line on stomach Kanawa_Studio / Getty Images

Braxton Hicks contractions

It’s a very strange sensation the first time you notice your belly suddenly feel super-tight—almost like a quick muscle spasm.  It may be a little uncomfortable, but it’s totally normal. Your muscles are just randomly contracting, almost in test mode for delivery. As long as they go away quickly, Braxton Hicks contractions are nothing to worry about. Just change positions and try these tips to stay as comfortable as possible until they pass. Call your practitioner if they don’t subside or become more intense.

Woman in ninth month of pregnancy experiencing contractions and severe pain sitting in a living room Gligatron / Getty Images

What's on your mind when you're 23 weeks pregnant

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Working it out

Wondering what kinds of workouts are safe at week 23 with a now-prominent belly? Generally, you should be fine to continue with most pre-pregnancy exercises with a few exceptions: Sports like horseback riding, scuba diving and anything that could involve an impact to your abdomen should be avoided. Certain yoga poses, such as twists and inversions, will need to be adapted, so switch to a prenatal class just to be safe. Swimming is also a great option now because the weightlessness you experience in the pool will feel wonderful. Keep doing laps on your own or sign up for a prenatal aquafit class designed for mamas-to-be. If you are bored with your usual workout and would like to try something new, we’ve got five pregnancy-safe exercises you can do at home—no gym required!  When it comes to prenatal exercise, the bottom line is that you should do what feels good, but talk to your practitioner if you have any questions.

Just for kicks

Go shopping

Have some fun dressing the bump—it’s almost like an accessory now. You’ll feel and look better in maternity clothes that are comfortable and fit your growing belly. You don’t need to head to an expensive maternity store, though; flowy tops and tunics in a larger size will do the trick, and capes, drape-y cardigans and blazers that can be left open will accommodate a growing bump. Click below for the eight pieces of maternity wear every mom-to-be needs. You may need to be fitted for a new bra, though. If you plan on breastfeeding, go right for the nursing bras, which can be worn now and postpartum. Maternity pants are also more comfortable than trying to squeeze into a regular waistband—even if it’s stretchy or a bigger size. A great pair of maternity jeans is a wise investment because they can be worn for the rest of your pregnancy and several months postpartum (or beyond!).

Young woman in a shopping store Eva-Katalin / Getty Images

The ultra-long tank

Don’t underestimate these basic tank tops as you’ll likely live in them all pregnancy long. The extra-long length is ideal for when you’re still transitioning from classic sizes to maternity (and perhaps doing the hair-elastic trick around the top button of your jeans) keeping everything tucked away and concealed. In your third trimester, they’re also useful as they layer under knits and blouses that might be a tad too short.

happy pregnant woman Photo: H&M

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The opaque legging

Sure, your regular leggings will work for a while, but once you find that the pesky waistband keeps rolling down every time you move a maternity style is needed. To avoid any knicker issues, make sure you go with a pair that’s completely opaque or has a thick double-knit.

A side view of a pregnant woman in a pair of black leggings that go over her belly and have build-in support lines Photo: Knix

The oversize button-up

Whether you go with a solid white shirt, denim or a print, the oversize button-up offers endless options. Try it tucked into a midi-length skirt that showcases the tummy or worn untucked or tied over skinny jeans.

A pregnant woman has her hand in her jeans pocket wearing an oversize blue and white striped button-up shirt Photo: Gap Canada

Dark denim

A denim style with a maternity panel with plenty of stretch (look for spandex or elastane on the label) is an essential in your closet. Stick to a classic indigo, dark grey or black to get maximum wear.

pregnant woman touching her belly Photo: Motherhood Canada

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The slouchy knit

When it comes to cozy knits, purchase a size up or opt for a slouchier cut that will allow this basic to easily blend into every outfit you own. Pair with a high-waisted jersey (read: stretchy) pencil skirt or a pair of distressed jeans and sneakers.

pregnant woman in urban setting Photo: Seraphine

The patterned jacket

Don’t feel like your wardrobe needs to slump just because you’re pregnant—a printed bomber, blazer or loose kimono-style jacket adds major style cred to any basics you’ve got kicking around. Pair with a white tee and jeans or a comfy black dress.

Your pregnancy: 23 weeks Photo: Angel Maternity

The sweater dress

If you feel like wearing nothing but jogging pants, a sweater dress is the next best thing—but miles more stylish. Team with a pair of ankle boots or sneakers with leggings or boyfriend jeans.

stylish pregnant woman Photo: ASOS

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The jumpsuit

This will be your go-to one piece both during and after your pregnancy. Made from a comfy, stretch bamboo and cotton blend, this romper will stylishly stretch over your growing bump, and once you’ve had baby, works great for breastfeeding. Simply style with a scarf, blazer, denim or leather jacket and you’re good to go!

woman wearing romper Photo: Smash + Tess

The swing dress

A dress that will grow with you is essential to your wardrobe. A swing, A-line or trapeze silhouette can be belted in your first or second trimester and then worn without a belt as your bump gets bigger. Try layering a turtleneck or fitted blouse underneath or simply add a necklace to switch things up from week to week.

Your pregnancy: 23 weeks Photo: Kit and Ace

The party dress

Even if you’re not one to attend a lot of fancy events, the minute you get pregnant something will pop up—who doesn’t want an adorable pregnant lady at their wedding? Invest in one formal dress that has versatility—like this Hatch dress, which has a clasp at the neck that converts it into a v-neck gown. Ideally you can at least change the look with accessories or it can be dressed down with sneakers. Even if you don’t get that invite, you can wear this for those maternity shots you said you’d never do.

Your pregnancy: 23 weeks Photo: Hatch

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Baby names

Still stuck on what to call your little bun in the oven once it pops out? Take some inspiration from Mother Nature with our list of nature-inspired baby names. Maybe you love going to the ocean on your vacations, or maybe you have a favourite flower or tree from your childhood.  Lots of words from nature make for adorable names. Plants have different symbolic meanings too, so do your research and try out different options. You still have plenty of time!

Pregnant woman writing journal Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Pregnancy to-do list: Week 23

Painting the nursery

If you’re excited about bringing a nautical or woodland theme to life in your baby’s room, go ahead and do it. There’s no evidence to show that a small amount of house painting will harm you or the baby (though it could do a number on that already aching back!). Just avoid oil-based paints and paint strippers (which are sometimes used on furniture) as they contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which have been linked to birth defects and developmental disabilities with high exposure. Opt for low-VOC or VOC-free latex paints, open the windows to keep the room well ventilated and take frequent breaks. To be extra-cautious, you could ask your partner to wield the brush or hire a painting service and take over the decorating duties after the painting is finished.

While you’re thinking about reducing your exposure to chemicals (which is smart, by the way!), now is a good time to reassess the cleaning products in your home. Some chemicals found in household cleaners, such as bleach and ammonia, can be harmful. Switch to scrubs and sprays that are labelled eco-friendly or nontoxic, or make your own with vinegar and baking soda.

Read more: Could taking antibiotics during pregnancy impact your child’s behaviour? 16 sweet mobiles for your baby’s nursery Next up: 24 weeks pregnant

Your pregnancy: 23 weeks

This article was originally published on Aug 15, 2017

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